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COMMENT AND REVIEW. 



i 



n 




OING is al- 
ways b e t ter 
than promis- 
ing, and yet in 
the initial num- 
ber of a new 
publication the 
public natural- 
ly looks for a 
certain declar- 
ation of pur- 
pose. Ameri- 
can Art has 
been started 
because its projectors feel that 
there is a place for it in the held 
which they propose to occupy, and 
abundant work for it to do in conserving 
and promoting the interests of art in this 
country. The more definite plans of the man- 
agement are set forth on another page. This num- 
ber will serve to indicate pretty clearly the general 
character that it is intended the periodical shall 
take and the line along which it will progress. 
Further than that we can only commend our read- 
ers to subsequent issues, in which we hope to make 
evident a constant grow^th and development in the 
path w^hich we have marked out for ourselves to 

pursue. 

^ 

The American artist must, for a time at least, 
paint earthly pictures. These need not necessarily 
be ignoble, any more than the greatest painters of 
any time ; the Dutch were ignoble wdien they pic- 
tured the varied sentiments of the day life of their 
people. The average American is not a parable- 



loving person. He cares not for artificial effect in 
incident, though he may applaud the chromo. 
Facts and finish, a we II- told story and any amount 
of sentiment are what he wants. Our artists must 
paint to interest and amuse, for it is now a question- 
ing of the heart and eye rather than of the mind 
with our public. Thought and invention will come 
as soon as there is a demand for them. 



About art teaching as a profession we have" 
heard a good deal of late; of it as a trade we have 
heard little, and very singularly, too, since this metier 
is attaining important proportions. We have been 
struck by the growth of this new business by 
examining the prospectuses of a large number of 
art academies and schools and of institutions 
devoted to the arts, sciences and polite studies 
w^hich are either sanctioned by the experience of 
time or are the vogue of the day. No college, sem- 
inary or school but has now its teacher of art — a 
fact in itself encouraging and significant of the im- 
portant position that a knowledge of painting and 
sculpture is taking in schemes of broad education. 
The gratification which all lovers of art must feel at 
seeing their favorite study thus encouraged is tem- 
pered somewdiat when it is noticed of what sort of 
material its teachers are often made. In nine cases 
out of ten they are alike " to fortune and to fame 
unknowm, '' persons Avho have failed in the technical 
practice of art, or, having seen nothing of art abroad, 
either ancient or modern, give to. their pupils the 
results of unintelligent and random book study, 
unassisted by a particle of personal feeling or dis- 
crimination. No wonder art is voted a dry study 
by most pupils of our colleges and seminaries, when 
the teachers know nothing this side of Pheidias 
in sculpture and Raphael in painting, nor have 



COMMENTS AND REVIEW. 



gained from an observation of foreign countries and 
manners any hint of the personal human quaUty, 
which alone makes art of vital significance to the 
present time. We shall do better in this matter, as 
in others, by-and-by, and find art as interesting as it 
now seems dry. An improvement might already be 
made by our wealthier institutions of learning, that 
can afford to make it worth the while of Uberally 
educated men to devote themselves to teaching the 
broad and philosophical principles of art. If they 
will do this they may greatly increase their influence 
and reputation and force other institutions to follow 
their example or confine themselves to teaching 
branches which they are better able to promote. 



Artists are not a migratory class, generally speak- 
ing; in fact, they are usually quite contented with 
a locality when once they have become fairly estab- 
lished. Like all other professional men, however, 
they are ever on the alert to improve their condi- 
tion, and, naturally enough, they gravitate to those 
sections of the country which are thoroughly alive 
with commercial activity. Portland, Providence, 
Boston and Philadelphia, while they have their art 
clubs, art exhibitions and a number of excellent art 
schools, do not support the real talent that can be 
found struggling in their wealthy precincts. Spring- 
field, Mass., strangely enough, is the superior of any 
one of these cities in the patronage of American art. 
New York, Chicago and several western cities do 
more for their artists than the rest of the country 



combined, twice over. It is not to be wondered at, 
then, that the artists of eastern cities are slowly yet 
surely centering on New York as their field of opera- 
tion, and this migration will doubtless continue just 
as long as there is no patriotic effort made to recog- 
nize their ability elsewhere. 



Japanese art has become almost naturalized in 
this country. It is certainly exercising a very posi- 
tive influence upon our native art and is unquestion- 
ably a' permanent and a powerful, as it is a conspicu- 
ous factor in the moulding of what will one day be 
a distinct individual American school. As we 
study the history and the characteristics of other 
art movements in reference to their influence upon 
our art development it will be found profitable, as 
well as agreeable, to follow that of Japan, which has 
already become such a component part of our own. 
In this light Mr. Louis Wertheimber's cursory 
papers on Japanese art and Japanese artists, the 
first of which appears in this number, will be, 
we think, read with a great deal of pleasure, and 
aside from their purely literary value will prove 
abundantly interesting and instructive. 



Educate the young to a knowledge of the beau- 
tiful. Their minds are ever ready to receive 'it, for 
the love of adornment is born in every human being 
and only needs to be developed. Its maturity will 
be sooner reached if the seed is well nourished.